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Spouse with Depression
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c4ranch posted:
I'm reaching out to all women with spouses with diagnosed Major Depressive Disorder. HELP! How do you cope? The only way I can live day-to-day is to think that my husband is in an emotional coma. If he was in a real coma I would sit by his side and talk to him not expecting a response. While he is having an episode it is the same thing. I say I love you...no response. I say I'm here for you....no response. Some days I want to throw up my hands and say that's it. I'm done. And we are only a couple of months into this. Yes, he is on meds. Yes, he is in counseling. This is hard.
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alaska_mommy responded:
Why don't you look over this thread:
http://forums.webmd.com/3/depression-exchange/forum/3457/274
It is all about living with depressed spouses. Maybe something there would help you. Or you can repost this on that thread.
Good luck, in my case, I am the depressed spouse, so I can't really help you much.
 
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c4ranch replied to alaska_mommy's response:
You may be able to help. What can your spouse do...if anything... ? Do you want to be ignored or do you appreciate it when your spouse reaches out? Do you want him to say I love you or does that not matter?
 
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alaska_mommy replied to c4ranch's response:
Well...I think it depends on how severe the depression is whether what you say will make an impact on your spouse or not. A lot of times, depression causes feelings of self-depreciation, hoplessness, worthlessness, even outright self-hatred. So, if that person is totally consumed with negative thoughts about themselves, it might be very hard to even consider that what your healthy spouse is trying to communicate is even true. Depression will make the depressed person think, Oh, they're just saying that because they have to, they're my spouse... or, They don't know who I am on the inside. If they knew, they wouldn't love me anymore. So even if you honestly are telling them you love them no matter what, or that you think they are worth having around and that you don't know what you would do without them, the depressive thoughts in their mind will immediately negate what you just said. Or, it may give them a warm feeling fleetingly, but soon the negative thoughts will swoop back in and they will feel miserable again.
At the same time, having someone tell you they are here for you, or they want to help you, or they love you, is good to hear, even if you don't quite believe it, because if the spouse doesn't say it at all, then it just confirms to them that they are truly unloveable.

I guess you could sort of look at it like an emotional black hole. How much positive energy gets sucked in depends on how big the black hole is...ie how bad the depression is. If this makes you feel hopeless yourself, I'm sorry, just trying to honestly give you an idea of what it's like. Sometimes too the depressed person will push away their spouse, either because they don't want to make their loved ones feel any more miserable than they're already making them feel, and also can be because irritability can be one of the symptoms of depression. I know for me at times I just feel like any little interaction with others that requires something of me can make me feel so angry/irritated. I get the feeling that if everyone would just leave me alone and not need me for anything, that I could feel ok for a little while. Interacting with people, even your loved ones, can feel like such an effort that it can increase anxiety or tension that the depressed person is feeling. Or sometimes they just feel completely numb and unable to muster up anything in the way of an emotional response.

I think looking at it as if your husband is in an emotional coma is a good way to look at it. When someone gets injured very badly and their body is struggling to survive, sometimes it will send that person into a coma in attempt to repair the problem. I think it's a good comparison, for example emotionally, if the feelings of despair and hopelessness are too much to bear, numbness can be the psyche's way of coping with that. Sometimes numb is a welcome feeling when the true feelings are so raw and bleak.

I hope something in my random thoughts helps you. It's sort of hard to communicate succinctly. Maybe some of the other members might have some better descriptors for how it feels.
 
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c4ranch replied to alaska_mommy's response:
Your response is so helpful. Thank you for taking the time to share your "random thoughts." What you describe is exactly what my husband is going through. It is shocking how much the disease colors how he views people's actions.

I feel like there is nothing I can say or do at this point. I only make matters worse. It feels like I am the focal point for all his anger and frustration.

This is not a path for the faint of heart and I'm beginning to wonder if it is one I can walk.

I wish you all the best of luck with your disease. I hope your meds help and you leverage everything available to you to keep yourself balanced. I'd say I will pray for you but I'm beginning to give up on that.
 
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alaska_mommy replied to c4ranch's response:
I understand, I've given up on praying for awhile but trying to get back into the groove. So it does not offend me at all for you to say that because I'm there too.
I am sure you feel like you are the lightning rod for all his anger, but keep in mind it's not YOU that is the problem, you are not CAUSING his anger. With everyone else, he is just holding it in/holding it together, but because you are the one who lives with him day to day, and he feels comfortable with you, he is showing you what is truly in his heart. I think anger is the psyche's way of crying out that the way he feels is not right, not fair, shouldn't be happening. A response to the suffering. Like someone who just found out they lost a leg, feeling anger and that anger spilling over on all their loved ones around them. So as much as his anger hurts you, probably what would be best is to try to step way back emotionally and try not to get entangled in his emotions (as much as you can, I know that's not always possible). You can be caring and loving but put yourself first. His depression will only suck you in if you try to put all your heart and compassion into him. He is the only one who can decide to get help or to reach out for you or anyone else.
For a depressed person, it's like time has stopped and you're just stuck in this dark swirling vortex and you can't see your way out.
For you, that means you need to take care of yourself so that you don't get sucked in. Yes, encourage him to get help. Yes, tell him you love him, leave him notes of encouragement or whatever you want or feel able to do in that regard. Pray if it helps you feel better, but don't feel bad if you need to take a break from praying about it for awhile. Just focus on taking care of yourself, getting time away to re-energize yourself or spend time just being "normal" for awhile. That way, when you're with him, you don't feel so frustrated and helpless. That might help him a little bit, too. Imagine it like someone who has a crippled spouse and is caring for them full-time...that caregiver will need to take extra care of themselves to stay strong.
Even if you need to take a weekend away from him to go play with your lady friends and get fresh perspective, do that. If he's at all suicidal, I'd have someone else stay with him or regularly call/check in with him.
He has a very good chance of getting better! Medication and therapy can really help in most cases. But in the meantime, it's sort of a big waiting game...extremely frustrating for the healthy one, who probably just wants to throttle the depressed one and say "WAKE UP! You have a good life, what are you so unhappy about???"
More ramblings for you today
Take care
 
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c4ranch replied to alaska_mommy's response:
You should start a blog! You say the most amazing things...like..."dark swirling vortex and you can't see your way out." My husband cannot articulate that but I just know that is the way he feels right now.

MDD is a relentless disease. It totally consumes the host and then goes after everyone in its path!

If you start a blog...let me know.
 
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alaska_mommy replied to c4ranch's response:
Well thanks! I don't think I'll do a blog just because well...it seems like a lot of work. Haha. I'm still a bit hunkered down just trying to take care of priorities. Thanks to Wellbutrin, I'm getting my creative streak back. So that's nice.
Anyway, yes you are right, MDD does consume the host and touches everyone around them with its slimy tentacles!!
 
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Demons2011 replied to alaska_mommy's response:
Al-Mom, yep your getting your creative side back. Slimy tentacles. Good analogy. I have always thought of depression like an octopus. Just when you think you have it under control, another tentacle reaches out of the depths an grasps your soul.

Glad Wellbutrin is helping you, to me it lulled me senseless. Just numb all the time.
 
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alaska_mommy replied to Demons2011's response:
Thanks...yeah an octopus would be a good descriptor. You are pretty darned creative yourself, bucko! You really have a way with words when describing how it feels.

Yeah it's so interesting how meds affect us all differently, one is good for one person while for another it's bad. *shrug* Just the nature of the beast, I guess.
 
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Demons2011 replied to alaska_mommy's response:
Bucko? Where's "me harty". LOL. The beast? I was once called a beastly man, and manly man. Including beast master. Now how did you match up those terms? Psychic?

No, I am not kidding. It was when I played sports, back when I had knees which didn't whine all day every day.
 
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alaska_mommy replied to Demons2011's response:
Haha. I didn't think to use "me harty"...might fit better with images of a giant octopus...hehe I'm thinking of 20,000 leagues under the sea. I think...it's been awhile since I've seen it.

Now, the beast reference was just the luck of the draw. Maybe I need a disclaimer at the end of each post "Any similarity to people living or dead is purely coincidental"...lol. J/K.
Sorry to hear about your knees. That must be frustrating! Especially after having been known as the beast master!
 
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Demons2011 replied to alaska_mommy's response:
Don't think twice about the knees. I plan on leaving a well used and abused body behind when the time comes. No spare parts shop here. I have had a very full life of doing things which I have paid for and for which I will pay some more for. Shouldn't be any comments at the casket but - dang he must have lived a life.
 
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thegoodwife7 responded:
Hi there, my husband has just been diagnosed as being severely depressed along with a personality disorder. He is 33 years old and has a career in the Army. He is really concerned with getting on meds because he is afraid of it ruining his career. There is so much stigma with the military and mental disorders! He's been seeing a therapist for the past month, after I kept urging him too. His mother too suffers from serious depression and has been suicidal majority of his life. Now it seems he is finally going to start meds hopefully this week. I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder myself so we are quite the pair! But I've managed it with meds pretty well for the last 9 years. Last week we finally hit rock bottom when I found out he had been e-mailing some random woman across the country and talking about his feelings to her instead of to me. In a lot of ways it was good because it brought everything out in the open and forced him to tell me the depths of what was going on. Now he actually wants to get help....I just hope it really does help. We've been married for 8 years, been through two deployments, countless moves, and have a 5 year-old son who loves him dearly...
 
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Demons2011 replied to thegoodwife7's response:
hey thegoodwife7, glad you came by, good group of people here, very supportive, non-judgmental.


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